Political Aspects

Political Aspects: Is nuclear politically correct in an international environment?

Although there are a number of political aspects to nuclear technology, the session became focused on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons issues. It was noted that the Young Generation is united in opposition to nuclear weapons, however there are big differences in the attitudes of different countries towards related issues. For example, excess weapons grade plutonium is viewed as a resource by Russia, but as a waste by the U.S. Also, compare the attitude toward reprocessing and recycling between France and the U.S.

A common viewpoint on nonproliferation is the implementation of nuclear Safeguard systems and the importance of verification. It was pointed out that international safeguard systems of the IAEA have succeeded without fail for over 10 years of large-scale production and use of MOX fuels in Europe. Similar institutional safeguards will automatically be part of any major program dealing with special nuclear material such as the disposition of weapons-grade U and Pu to bring about political confidence and trust.

The Young Generation in the nuclear industry should be aware that they are impacted by nonproliferation treaties and disarmament. The nature of nuclear energy demands an environment of trust and transparency and therefore the trust of nonproliferation is achieved only through institutional means. However, these safeguards do not need to interfere with a countrys ability to benefit from nuclear technology. The Young Generation should try to understand the relationship between their occupation and the reality of nonproliferation treaties and disarmament.

In the audience of about 100, there appeared to be a lack of reaction in general. The Y Notes Group felt this could be due to: (1) lack of knowledge or expertise on the part of the audience on the nuclear weapons nonproliferation treaty and related issues, (2) the lack of comfort with the English language may have caused people to be timid, and (3) the topic was one of opinion and not a field of technical curiosity for this audience.

Three papers were cancelled entitled Present and Future Role of Nuclear Power in the Energy Mix From the Point of Safety, Competitiveness and Climate Protection by O. Studenec, Ministry of Economy, Slovakia; EU Nuclear Policy in the Wider European Context: Future Perspectives by M. Deffrenes, European Commission, Belgium; and The Plutonium Challenge for the Future by L. Gray, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA.

The Y Notes Group makes the following observation and recommendation: Often nuclear scientists and engineers are not educated on political nonproliferation issues, therefore, a focused session set apart from other political aspects should be held that includes a more diversified representation. In particular, it is essential to get the viewpoints of other nuclear weapons countries such as China and India, as well as non-nuclear countries.